When the sun went down and the lights went out, there were several instances of violence, drug use, and rape. These, quite obviously, aren’t acceptable actions nor ones to be encouraged. The local community had the right to their own concern. But simultaneously, the local skateboarding community was experiencing some of the most positive influence from having that park there during daylight hours. What to some is pure recreation and family-building is to others opportunity for breaking the law, abusing each other and disrespecting public assets - a prime example of an unintentional dual purpose space. There’s no way of knowing precisely, but I suspect that none of the daytime skaters were nighttime gangbangers or drug dealers. Sheldon was a special case.
After some time of public dissatisfaction, Sheldon Skate Plaza was filled and/or covered with sand. This was a devastating blow to the skateboarding community, mainly due to the lack of resources for clearing out that huge amount of matter from the premises. The public had spoken through some means, leaving the skateboarding community with one less safe space for their assembly and progression. It was a sad day, but skateboarding went on.
A bad soul can easily turn any place “bad,” and a few good souls can turn a single location into a great one.
As of yesterday, Sheldon has been dug out from the sand that once covered it. The skaters of Sun Valley, CA and beyond came out to resurrect the plaza for skateboarders’ use. To those that are familiar with the park, it serves as a monument of sorts to the effort and determination of local skateboarders. And, on top of that, the park is well-designed and cleanly built, easy to love from a skater’s point of view. Sheldon is back (for as long as possible), and skateboarders have their space back. But how many communities will be punished for the wrongdoings of their destructive neighbors and violent visitors? When will the city (Los Angeles in this case) realize that you can’t fix an isolated issue with a blanketing solution? When will leaders stop and realize that one size does not fit all? That there are positive spaces with negative side effects and that restricting positive usage [usually] does NOT rescind those side effects…
At the end of the day, I was stoked to have skated Sheldon Skate Plaza, with some visiting pro skaters no less. But the fact remains that its true positive potential had not been realized by whomever dumped sand in the skatepark. This is a learning experience, but only with the correct conversation.
This is a reminder to not only take action in your local communities, but also to see everything in your world in its most positive light.
Keep rolling, no trolling.
- 7Ply Epic